It helps when presidential candidates have held elected office — executive office, especially. We can look at the bills they’ve supported as signs of things to come if they win the White House.
Behold, then, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the aspiring Disney villain who just announced he’s vying for the GOP nomination against Donald Trump, who was recently held civilly liable for sexual abuse and defamation, is under criminal indictment in New York, and faces potential charges from the Justice Department and in Georgia, related in part to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Trump, of course, is a threat to democracy and the rule of law, but that doesn’t diminish the danger of how DeSantis has wielded his office since becoming governor in 2019. Here are some extreme DeSantis-backed laws that show us who he is:
- Abortion. DeSantis signed a six-week ban into law in April, adding to the list of states where the procedure is banned or effectively banned after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. The governor’s reported “quiet” signing of the bill, announced after 11 p.m. ET to little public fanfare, highlights his willingness to advance unpopular measures backed by a tyrannical GOP minority hellbent on controlling women.
- Guns. With the nation awash in irresponsible gun use, DeSantis nonetheless approved a measure in April letting residents carry a concealed loaded weapon without a permit. “Constitutional Carry is in the books,” DeSantis triumphed, employing a phrase that has no legal meaning but does well to signal his personal view of the Constitution and thus the sort of bloodthirsty laws and judges he favors.
- LGBTQ rights. Not content with what critics refer to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, DeSantis has continued supporting further restrictions on schools teaching about sex and gender, which ties into the broader GOP goal of suppressing truthful education and history. Embracing the latest contrived moral panics, DeSantis on May 17 signed several bills restricting LGBTQ rights, including by expanding the “Don’t Say Gay” law, banning gender-affirming care, barring trans people from using public facilities of their choosing, and restricting drag performances.
- Voting rights. Carrying on the vaunted GOP tradition of minority rule through screwy election maneuvers, DeSantis has also made it a priority to restrict voting in order to cement Republican power. He has signed laws that, among other things, restrict voting by mail and at drop boxes and deter eligible voters with criminal convictions from casting ballots.
- Death penalty. Underscoring both the GOP’s innate desire for executions and running roughshod over the law to carry them out, DeSantis has pushed bills to expand capital punishment, even in circumstances that directly contravene Supreme Court precedent. That includes signing a bill allowing the death penalty for the rape of a child, which is squarely unconstitutional under precedent barring capital punishment for non-homicide offenses.
With those laws and others under DeSantis’ belt, it’s unsurprising that the NAACP and other groups have warned minorities targeted by the governor against even traveling to his state. Effectively summing up the 2024 hopeful’s legal agenda, the NAACP described Florida under his watch as “openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.”
Reminding us of how he could uphold his unpopular agenda through the judiciary, DeSantis, who shifted Florida courts rightward, told a Christian audience on Monday that he could make the Supreme Court that overturned Roe last year even more conservative.
Expect DeSantis, like Trump, to weaponize the legal system if he takes the White House.
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